The floating villages on the shores of Tonle Sap Lake have become a fascinating spot amongst tourists and are at a distance of 15 km from Siem Reap. Surrounded by dampening forests, teeming rice fields and lotus flowers, the floating houses of the rural boat communities have become quite an attraction for many visitors. If dining in a floating restaurant and shopping on floating markets enchants you, then this is the place for you! Anyone who visits Cambodia makes it a point to explore the marvellous floating villages of Tonle Sap Lake.There are mainly 4 floating villages in Tonle Sap Lake and you can book a package tour to visit them together.
1. Kampong Khleang
Kampong Khleang, translated as 'harbour warehouse' is a collection of three villages, Kampong Khleang, Chong Prolay, and a traditional Vietnamese village housing approximately 1800 families for generations. Kampong Khleang has both floating and stilted houses as well as other buildings, all of which stand tall in beautiful colours.
As you enter the village, a dazzling blue lake welcomes you with the true sight of the locals carrying out their daily routines and working immensely hard for a living. The boat services and restaurants are owned and run by the locals. Located at a distance of 50 km from Siem Reap, the village highly runs on ecotourism resulting in your money to support the local communities.
Pre-booked tour packages include visiting the local markets and a sticky rice-producing village, but otherwise, you can get here on your own by a tuk-tuk and then hire a boat to explore the village according to your convenience and priority.
Entry Fees: 81,294 Riels (USD 20)
2. Kampong Phluk
Also known as “Harbour of the tusks”, Kampong Phluk is just 30 km from Siem Reap. This floating village is one of its kind offering traditional Khmer cuisines at their floating restaurants along with a magnificent view over the lake. The fishing community is very well known for their fish and shrimp catching skills. This might sound very absurd but the village community here rears crocodiles in large numbers. A few floating restaurants also serve crocodile meat once in a while for amateur foodies.
To explore a little more, hop onto the small boats that will take you through mangroves and flooded forests for a more realistic experience. There are not many activities for tourists to do in Kampong Phluk as it is a working village and the people are engrossed in their daily routines and industry. However, you can walk past their houses in a non-invasive manner and take a look into different ways of living.
Entry Fees: 81,000 Riels - 1,00,000 Riels (USD 20 - USD 25)
Compared to the other villages, Mechrey is a lesser known tourist spot which has recently developed eco-tours. At a 25 km distance from Siem Reap, the floating village is also an entry point into the Prek Toal Core Bird Reserve. Getaway to a wildlife sanctuary, Mechrey is surrounded by an immense forest which habitats more than 100 bird species perfect for some nature photography. Get there by car or a tuk tuk for an excellent way to see the countryside. This floating village is very well maintained by the locals with houses well adorned with plants and verandas stocked up with firewood.
The most unusual yet bizarre attractions of the floating village are the floating garden and floating cemetery. As an upstanding act, you can also donate rice to the orphans or some money to a reputable organisation. As you return, do not forget to stop at Artisans Angkor to buy a few souvenirs and help the local community grow.
Entry Fees: 81,294 Riels (USD 20)
Fee for a boat to the Nature Reserve: 1,21,889 Riels (USD 30)
Donation Fees: 40,630 Riels (USD 10)
4. Chong Kneas
Chong Kneas acts as a boat terminal if you take an express boat from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh. So if you have these places on your itinerary, it is best to walk around Chong Kneas for 15 minutes before your next destination. At a distance of approximately 16 km from Siem Reap, the village is full of surprises with a floating school and a floating church! Do not panic if you find crocodiles wandering around the village premises. Seeing that the village has a lot of Korean tourists visiting every year, you will find numerous Korean restaurants to dine in.
Entry Fees: 60,981 Riels (USD 15)
If you want to experience the village actually “floating” then the best time to go is between June to November during the wet season. The dry season is also not a bad alternative to experience the tall wooden stilts that hold the houses up. Avoid going between March to May during summer as the lakes are fully dried up.
Tips to Remember While Visiting a Floating Village
- Research thoroughly before you go to a village as there are a few perils to be cautious about.
- Be considerate and respect the privacy of the people living there.
- Go with a reputed tour company for a comfortable and hassle-free experience.
- Do not ask for recommendations from the tuk-tuk drivers, they might end up scamming you for their personal profit.
- Avoid visiting any schools as it is a common act for them to ask for money from tourists pleading for books and food but the money is hardly used for what it is claimed.
- Instead, you can always spend money at souvenir shops, local paddle boats, restaurants and information centres to boost their tourism.
During the dry season, you can arrange your own trip and reach the village by a tuk-tuk, car or motorcycle and start walking through the villages. To visit the site during the wet season, you can either show up and hire a boat or book a tour for a hassle-free experience.
The floating villages are worth visiting after a historical exploration to the Angkor Wat temples in Siem Reap. This wonderful site will truly be an eye opener full of gratitude towards nature and life!